Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Attacking the Studio

Perhaps "attack" is the wrong word when beginning a project like this. I guess it's more like "avoid" and then begrudgingly begin.

Part of the avoidance was a back issue of Art in America that I received yesterday from Linda Cordner at the New England Wax meeting. She was kind enough to think of me when going through some old issues and seeing an article on El Anatsui.

This was a great issue of the magazine and I was very glad to page through it while eating my lunch. (Always eat as a means of avoidance is my motto.)

May 2006 issue of Art in America

There were a couple of El Anatsui pieces that I had not seen before, and I liked the way they were photographed because you could really see the texture of the aluminum bottle caps and wrappings that the pieces are made of.

This spiral piece is really fabulous looking and seems very different from his other work. It has so much dimension and the spiral seems set into the background of vertical strips. All that gold reminds me of Egyptian jewelry. It is a great piece.

So I read the article and then continued to page through. There are many other interesting articles in this issue and I am keeping it next to my chair so I can read them during future avoidance sessions.

One of the things I found in the magazine was this very amusing list by Amy Sillman. On the left are remarks that people make to artists at their openings and on the right is what they are really thinking. If you click on the image, it will open larger so you can read it more easily.

Well, by this time a couple of hours had passed and I was starting to get anxious thinking about all the work I had to do. What's happening is that I am teaching a class of Smith College students about encaustic next week at my studio. On Tuesday I will demonstrate encaustic painting and present a Power Point about the history of encaustic (with a survey of contemporary work in encaustic). Then on Thursday, the students will come back and experiment with the medium themselves. This is a class called "Historic Methods and Materials," and I believe that this is the first time the class has included encaustic in addition to oil painting, fresco, etc.

So this is what I'm contending with - a studio packed with stuff in various piles.

Messy working habits with half-completed projects strewn all over.

And barely room for me to walk around in let alone let students into.

Paint and materials for the Smith class

But worse than anything is this corner of my storage area that is (was) piled with bags of old bubble wrap, cardboard boxes and scraps of painted papers from years ago.

I'm happy to say that once I put down the magazine and got going, I tackled the bad corner first and took two shopping carts full of cardboard and old wrappings down to the trash room. I already have the cart filled and ready again with the next load. It's a relief to get at this mess and dig it out. Why did I save it all? is what I kept asking myself as I unearthed yet another bag full of bubble wrap scraps. And the answer, I guess, is because "you never know when it might come in handy." How much crap has been stored under that rubric and how good it feels to say, "I don't care."


Donna said...

It was fun to read your blog and look at the pictures then scroll up to the top and see the picture of you pristine studio! I too need to dig my way out of rubbish and get some work made...right after I finish my coffee and read the other blogs I'm fond of. Thanks for the laugh!

Gwendolyn Plunkett said...

I guess it doesn't matter how large our work space is, we still feel the need to cram it full with stuff. I do the same thing, saving stuff just in case I need it. It is usually something like your upcoming class, visitors or something that makes one aware of the clutter and the need to reduce it.

Binnie said...

I really like Amy Sillman's 'remarks'.
we all stall from different things...me...taxes/fafsa/profile...I'm reading everyones blogs today...Lisa Pressman is doing studio visits...Laura Moriarty included..just love her new work.
You have the table space in your studio for all those students..sounds like it will be a great experience for all!

lisa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
lisa said...

saving bubble wrap and cardboard boxes are on top of my list!!!

I find piles in the studio every day. I "unpile" them and then new ones appear.
It is just the way.

Anonymous said...

OMG after a grueling day at work, and about an hour in my studio scraping down 2 panels, I came home and read this and laughed so hard. I had no idea that your class was going to be in your studio, ouch! well let me know how it goes and good luck.

Nancy Natale said...

Thanks for commenting everyone. I know the studio struggle is as much about keeping all that stuff organized as it is making art. Sometimes I'm in charge and sometimes the stuff is and we continue to tango...